The second poster that caught my eye was this one:
Don't Talk! Be alert. In days like these, the walls have ears. It is a small step from gossip to treason. (1941)
This one of course got my attention because of my recent experience of being condemned for telling the truth (the truth about myself, the truth about others). I thought for some time about why the truth was withheld, why blatant lies were held up as gospel, why I was made to feel inferior for telling the truth. I thought: was it a shame-based culture (also explained in Trickster)? Was it the professional risks that the truth created? Was it just plain and simple pride? Of course the real answer is a combination of all those, plus many factors I am not able to consider. But seeing this poster enlightened me as to another possible factor, a cultural one.
Is it possible to come out of one culture, into another (be a third culture kid, essentially), but adopt the worse parts of both cultures and not the best parts (leaving the bad bits behind)? Of course it is. Just as it is possible for two different groups to espouse the same core beliefs from seemingly disparate political viewpoints (communism vs. capitalism as described in the first part of this sidebar). The idea that there are more basic paradigms that guide our lives than just ideas about politics, economics or the value of art, or having a religious doctrine vs. spiritual beliefs.
This culture of secrecy in Eastern Europe, that I experienced first hand, is so magnificently demonstrated in this poster, which was to be taken seriously at the time. Now it comically exposes the stupidities in both a culture and a political doctrine. I wonder if in a few decades time, the cultures of nations that provide a sustainable alternative to rampant consumerism will amuse themselves with advertisement posters on the walls of their museums, relics of a by-gone era when foolishness took itself so very seriously. “Pepsi–the choice of a new generation!”
Of course, the artists already make art out of those advertisements, the most brilliant ones make that art while the ad is still installed in public under its original purpose.
We are the new generation, and I ain't talkin' 'bout no fuckin' new market sensation. #
postscript: it must be said that the US had similar posters during WWII…albeit w/o the scowling woman.